For over two decades, the annual event has served Thanksgiving dinners to the community and throughout Los Angeles
“We serve as many people as the downtown mission, we just haven’t told that kind of story for the press. There are 1,500 meals going out here today and next year, hopefully, we’ll have 200 or more sitting in, where they’ll be served and another 1,000 [or] 1,200 going out,” said Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, president of the Ward Economic Development Corporation and public servant about the 27th Annual Thanksgiving Day Senior Feed at Ward Villas. “This is service at its best.”
On Thursday, November 24, Mothers In Action (MIA) and Ward EDC celebrated 27 years of service with sending Thanksgiving dinners out to the Greater Los Angeles area from Ward Villas Senior Complex.
This year’s Thanksgiving Feed delivered a hot, Thanksgiving meal and all the trimmings to over 1,000, sick and shut-in, senior residents in Los Angeles, Compton and surrounding communities. They were also able to provide food to Fire Station 94 and several transitional homes.
Additional underserved families received turkeys through donations to MIA from elected officials at CD 8, 9, 10 and the office of Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer of the 59th District.
For over two decades, this event has brought together an array of elected officials, celebrities, law enforcement, and organizations to serve Thanksgiving dinner to seniors and the sick and shut-in throughout Los Angeles. Volunteers of all ages, races and backgrounds came together and contributed to the famous assembly line getting dinners set to-go for deliveries.
“I volunteered with Mother in Action last year and I came out again this year with my son,” said Carlos Hill, who works at City National Bank. “We’re happy to assist and help the people here at the Ward community home.
“We’re just trying to do the right thing on Thanksgiving Day.”
“This is wonderful,” said volunteer LaVerne Gittens, “It’s like going to church, it’s like medicine, it’s so much love.”
She added, “When you think of all the stuff our people have gone through and to have such generosity in our hearts — it makes me realize there is so much hope. As long as people feel like they have something to give, even if they really don’t have that much, they have their spirit. It just knocks me out.”
“It’s great helping a cause like this for those in need particularly because I don’t really have a family out here,” said volunteer Kenya Queen. “It’s been nice coming out here an experiencing this and helping others have a great day today as well.”
The legacy of visionary and late founding president of MIA, Brenda Marsh-Mitchell, lives on in the Thanksgiving Feed at Ward Villas. Started in 1995, Marsh-Mitchell and the late Lillian Mobley wanted to give neglected seniors a holiday meal and to know that someone cared about them. Dupont-Walker took it all in for a moment when asked if it was 27 years since she and Brenda began the journey with the Ward Villa Thanksgiving Feed.
She shared a little about the journey she helped to begin over two decades ago.
“This is a blessing,” said Dupont-Walker. “Since Brenda and I first thought about this, there was no meals-on-wheels delivery on Thanksgiving Day.”
She continued, “This is a way, not only to have them be thankful and know we appreciate them, but they can invite people who have been good to them and say thank you to them.”
“This is my 20th year,” said Inglewood Unified School District Board Member Dr. Carliss McGhee. “This is something that I do on Thanksgiving to let our community know that we care.”
McGhee continued, “The pandemic was one thing but, we have had people [at home] for a long time and they’re seniors so, this is just my way of giving back.”
“This is a very important event each year,” said Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO President Yvonne Wheeler. “It was started by my great friend, Brenda Marsh-Mitchell, who always called herself a community janitor and so, every year she would forgo Thanksgiving and come out here to feed the seniors and it is incumbent upon me to continue that legacy.”
“In the spirit of Brenda Marsh Mitchell, I’m here today and I will be here every year,” said Councilmember Curren Price. “This is an important way to celebrate the Thanksgiving season, serving the seniors.”
Price continued, “This has become a real tradition in our community to benefit the residents and those in the area — and meals are also delivered. A whole sea of volunteers out here to support that cause including myself.”
“We’re just thankful to all of our sponsors and volunteers today for making this happen,” said MIA President Tracy Mitchell.
“This is 27 years, we’re grateful for all the volunteers, elected officials who donated turkeys and our sponsors for sacrificing their Thanksgiving this year. And the children that made personal greeting cards for the seniors, so everybody who got a meal also got a personal greeting card made by one of our children’s groups and so, that’s a way to allow them to participate even though they can’t be here with us today.”
She continued, “We’re just grateful to be able to be able to serve over 1,000 people today.”
Mitchell is extremely grateful to the sponsors and community partners at Bakewell Media, Los Angeles Sentinel, Taste of Soul, The Brotherhood Crusade, Blue Shield Promise, L.A. Sparks, Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation, Anthem and Los Angeles Urban League.
MIA also acknowledges the support of Dr. Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. of Bakewell Media, Wheeler of LA County Federation of Labor, Councilmembers Marqueece Harris Dawson of Council District 8, Price of Council District 9 and Heather Hutt of Council District 10, and Dupont-Walker of Ward EDC in assisting and propelling the mission to improve the quality of life of underserved families in the community throughout the year.
Mitchell also expressed special thanks for Chef Marilyn and 27th Street Bakery for the preparation of the Thanksgiving food and pies.
Mitchell shared that none of this would be possible without the grace of God and founding president and visionary, her mother, Brenda Marsh-Mitchell as “the legacy continues.”